I gazed at the beauty and stillness of the lake that stretched into the distance in all directions. The wind rustled the leaves and made ripples in the glassy surface of the water, bright with the colors and fading light of evening. I glanced at a small paper in my hand trying to put to memory the words scribbled on the page. I threw my next paddle stroke. I was stuck on this one phrase. I kept reading it over and over.
“My hope comes from him” (Psalm 62:5).
I had memorized this Psalm before and enjoyed it, but this time the words stopped me dead in my tracks.
God’s word is full of phrases quite similar to this one, each one placing a slightly different emphasis on the source of our hope.
“But those who hope in the Lord will soar on wings like eagles…” (Isaiah 40:31)
“Though he slay me, yet I will hope” (Job 13:15)
“May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you“ (Psalm 33:22)
“But as for me, I will always have hope” (Psalm 71:14).
My mind wandered as I thought about a difficult relationship that has been holding my attention. I had come on this vacation to get away and rest and yet I kept coming back to this worrisome struggle. I have a deep love for this person and yet ongoing strain in the relationship continues to wear on me.
Maybe I think my hope comes from redemption of this relationship? Or from finding a way to help them? In essence, I have placed a great deal of my hope in a person.
We do this often, placing our hope in so many other things, places, or people.
I find myself placing hope in the next new adventure or hobby I take up. I place hope in having new inspiration to communicate to students in the ministry I do. I place hope in having valuable projects to work on at work. I place hope in whether or not I am well-liked by others. All of these things I place hope in are good things, gifts God has given me, but they are not God.
My shoulders slump and a heavy tiredness begins to tug at me. Why can’t I keep my eyes fixed on God? I long so desperately to walk with Him as the center of my focus. But so many other identities and values press in on me and I have put my hope in them.
Contemplative authors would call these disordered attachments. We often define ourselves or put our hope in what we have, what we do, or what others think or say about us. We would do this rather than live in the security of our identity as a Beloved child of God. I am aware of these things and still can’t seem to fully understand or grasp what is most true regarding my Belovedness.
I stare these disordered attachments in the face as tears well in my eyes.
“I’m so sorry I can’t seem to get it right God.”
To my surprise, after a few moments of silence, I hear a response.
I love you, Leah.
My ears perk up, I’ve heard that voice before. It doesn’t belong to me or the enemy who would lead me to focus on my failure.
He speaks again…
I see you, Leah. You see these places you have put your hope and you see failure. How many times today have you placed that difficult relationship in my hands? Many. I see you putting your hope back in me over and over again. You are letting them go even though you don’t feel like you are. You are not failing. And even if you were, I still love you. I never stopped.
I was speechless.
“I’m not failing you, God?”
No, was His response, you are learning to let your hope come from me.
I'm not perfect. I don’t always follow God as intentionally as I want to. I still struggle with anxiety, fear, jealousy, anger, pride, and more. And yet, I am learning, I am being transformed on each step of this journey I am on. I am on a journey of learning to let my hope come from Him. It is not a failed journey. And He loves me every step of the way.
I breathed deeply as His love and grace washed over me. It is hard for me to trust His words even though they are the truth I most long to hear.
A tear rolled down my cheek and I smiled as I whispered. “I am Your Beloved daughter, my hope comes from You.”